Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer
It is a poorly kept secret that I enjoy books aimed at a much younger audience. I don't even feel the need to pretend I only read them to keep up on what my students are reading.
Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors. Since I loved his previous mythology-related series, I decided to give Magnus Chase a chance. I have always been interested in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian history and find their mythologies intriguing. So, I wasn't surprised that the Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Heroes of Olympus, and the Kane Chronicles series are among my favorite reads. But, I've never been very interested in Norse mythology. So, I wasn't sure about this one.
But, I was very pleasantly surprised. Having very little prior knowledge of Norse mythology, most of which came from a viewing of the movie Thor, I actually learned quite a bit.
Fans of Percy Jackson will enjoy Magnus Chase. The first-person narration is definitely in a similar style, and Magus has a well-fleshed out personality that comes through naturally.
The story begins as Magnus turns sixteen. So, he is a little older main character than some of Riordan's previous works. That being the case, parents should note there are a few mild swears, as well as some sarcastic references to the Norse goddess Hel and her underworld realm of Helheim.
As the story begins, Magnus is a homeless teen, and has been since his mother's death. Early on, an uncle informs him that his father is a Norse god. Of course, Magnus doesn't believe this. After a series of events, the details of which, I will not spoil, Magnus has no choice but to believe.
These events start Magnus on a quest to find a weapon that can help prevent Ragnarok, the Norse mythology version of the end of the world. Along the way Magnus becomes a central figure in a group of unlikely friends, including a dwarf, an elf, and a valkyrie. Together, they travel and meet a variety of Norse mythological figures as they try to stop events that will lead to the end of the world and the ultimate battle at Ragnarok. Readers visit Valhalla, meet Thor and Loki, and go fishing for the World Serpent. Riordan's specialty is weaving mythology into the narrative in a way that makes readers eager to learn something along the way. The Sword of Summer continues this tradition.
As with all of Riordan's books, there are a variety of diverse characters and themes of acceptance, courage, and friendship. If you have a reluctant reader, I highly recommend Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer. The second book in the series, The Hammer of Thor, is due out on October 4th. So, now is the perfect time to pick up the first book.